On topic with Dr. Dill: Is light-activated whitening safe for my teeth?

There's no time like the present to catch up on some much-needed self-care. That could include spending quiet time with a new book, starting a new workout routine — or looking for ways to brighten your smile.

Many options for whitening your teeth at home are now available, from toothpastes and mouthwashes to easy-to-use whitening strips and light-activated kits. Before using any of these over-the-counter products, however, know that some light-activated kits use hydrogen peroxide along with LED blue light technology to speed up or enhance the whitening process.

Research is mixed on whether the use of light improves teeth whitening — and whether it’s worth the risk to your smile. Some studies have found that using LED technology can increase the effectiveness of teeth whitening. But the hydrogen peroxide used to bleach your teeth can also soften your enamel and cause tooth sensitivity. If you experience sensitivity from whitening your teeth at home, stop until you can consult with your dentist.

If you’re considering an at-home teeth whitening kit with light activation:

• Know that teeth-whitening products generally don’t work on dental crowns, fillings, bridges, veneers and bonded teeth. When possible, it’s best to whiten teeth before any of these dental procedures are done.

• Make sure that the kit you choose doesn’t use ultraviolet (UV) light. This can potentially irritate your gums, damage your lips and teeth, burn the soft tissue in your mouth and increase the sensitivity of your teeth.

Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.